Garry Wills, a journalist and historian, is the author of numerous books, including Nixon Agonistes (1970), Inventing America (1978), Explaining America: The Federalist (1981), and Lincoln at Gettysburg (1993), which won a Pulitzer Prize that year. His most recent book is What the Qur’an Meant: And Why It Matters (2017). (November 2019)

FEATURED

Our Moloch

The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily—sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence.

IN THE REVIEW

Changing the ‘Changeless’ Church

The closing ceremony of the Second Vatican Council, Vatican City, December 1965

When Bishops Meet: An Essay Comparing Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II

by John W. O’Malley
In John O’Malley’s When Bishops Meet—the latest of his five books on ecumenical church councils—he compares and contrasts what he has written on the three last councils and argues that there should be a new one. This is the culmination of a great project that was almost forced upon him in the years 1963–1965 when, as a young Jesuit priest, he was in Rome as a fellow at the American Academy, finishing research for his Harvard dissertation on Giles of Viterbo.

The City That Wouldn’t Die

Musicians in the Original Four Social Aid and Pleasure Club’s annual second line brass band parade, New Orleans, October 2018

City of a Million Dreams: A History of New Orleans at Year 300

by Jason Berry
Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005, devastating an area seven times the size of Manhattan, flooding 80 percent of the city, ruining buildings, forcing a million people to flee, and stranding millions more in misery. Many of us remember this as a great failure of George W. Bush’s administration …

The Art of the Schmooze

Studs Terkel, 2004; photographs by Nancy Crampton
Studs Terkel, who died in 2008, is best remembered, if at all, by Americans at large for his popular and prize-winning books of oral history—nine of them, from Division Street (1967) to Hope Dies Last (2003). But we Chicagoans remember him more vividly for his large presence in our city over the last half of the twentieth century.

A Wild and Indecent Book

Max Ernst: The Virgin Chastising the Christ Child Before Three Witnesses: André Breton, Paul Éluard, and the Painter, 1926

The New Testament: A Translation

by David Bentley Hart
It was subtle of God to learn Greek when he wished to become an author, and not to learn it better. —Friedrich Nietzsche on the New Testament At last a man comes riding to the rescue of the English Bible. Condemning earlier translations of the New Testament, David Bentley Hart …

NYR DAILY

The Framers’ Answers to Three Myths About Impeachment

An animated diorama depicting the 1787 Constitutional Convention on display in the Time-LIFE building, New York City, circa 1962

Congress is not a “co-equal” branch of government with the presidency. It is by far the superior branch. James Madison made that clear for all time with his lapidary sentence in Federalist No. 51: “In republican government, the legislative authority, necessarily, predominates.” Necessarily. Discussion over. Congress can, by impeachment and conviction, simply remove members of the other two branches, including its highest members (the president, the chief justice). Neither of those other two can do the same to Congress. Among the many things that show President Trump knows nothing about the Constitution was his October 6, 2019 tweet that said Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi should be “immediately Impeached.” Congress impeaches. Its members cannot be impeached.

My Education in the Patriarchy

A University of California student stands in an empty classroom reading a notice of cancellation, Berkeley, 1964

After observing the problems women encountered at the elite colleges where I taught, I noticed similar problems in the protest groups and radical communes I observed as a journalist covering the social turmoil around opposition to the Vietnam War. In Canada, I found a tougher world of military deserters and draft refusers, and there as well I saw a natural leader doing the propaganda work of these activists, while the women complained that the political revolution their group was calling for did not reflect the sexual revolution actually happening in the world outside that of these radicals. The women were expected to service the men sexually, and they made little headway with their protests other than deserting the deserters. The fact that such sexism was common on the left as well as the right really came home to me.

The Rights of Guns

El Paso residents protesting the visit of President Donald Trump after the Walmart mass shooting that left twenty-two people dead, Texas, August 7, 2019

“Gun rights,” as used by devotees of an absolutist Second Amendment, means their right to own guns. But in America today, it has come to mean more: the rights of guns. Guns themselves possess more rights than persons do. Guns’ exemption from common-sense legislation guarantees them not only rights, but also rites. Guns are sacred objects. They are more than things, more even than persons. They are an unstoppable force, a god.

Resistance Means More Than Voting

The purse of an attendee at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally addressed by President Barack Obama, Anaheim, California, September 8, 2018

How long must the list of Trump’s anti-democratic outrages grow before we hope that resistance be mounted openly, secretly, immediately, effectively? President Obama says we must wait until we can vote. After all, in a matter of weeks, we may vote in a House of Representatives that may impeach the president. But it is doubtful that we will elect a Senate that can convict the president. Vote, of course. But there is no reason to think that voting is the sole allowable form of resistance. What if the laws are not only unjust but framed and upheld by measures that baffle democratic correction?

NYR CALENDAR

Spotlight

The script, written by the film’s director Tom McCarthy and the academic- and-showbiz marvel Josh Singer, is amazing in its mastery of the complex material, since many strands converged for the paper to break the hold of the hierarchy over the city.